If the United State Congress were to allow the citizens of Puerto Rico to choose between independence and statehood, an overwhelming majority (70 percent) would choose statehood, with 14 percent opting for independence and 13 percent undecided, according to a Suffolk University/Universidad del Turabo poll of 601 likely voters in Puerto Rico.
“This finding has historic and political implications beyond the composition of our flag,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Whether President Obama’s popularity would translate into Puerto Rico’s having blue state status remains to be seen. However the impact of these numbers on the political conversation should not be ignored.”
With a population of just under 4 million, Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Although Puerto Ricans were granted United States citizenship in 1917, they cannot vote for the president of the United States and have no voting representation in Congress. In a nonbinding referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico held in November 2012, 54 percent of voters said they should not continue with the Island’s current territorial status.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has proposed including funds in the 2014 budget for a federally sanctioned plebiscite in Puerto Rico on options for the island’s future political status, according to an online report from Caribbean Business.
“Puerto Rico is going through difficult times, and we wanted to do a study that enabled us to analyze the people’s perceptions and opinions about important issues, such as government, the economy and the island’s future, through a public opinion survey based on a scientific approach and through an experienced partner,” said Dennis Alicea, chancellor of the Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico. “We are delighted to have partnered with Suffolk University on this endeavor, and we share the results in order to establish a framework, demonstrate transparency and motivate further research.”
The Suffolk University/Universidad del Turabo poll is the first major poll of its kind since the Puerto Rico election for governor in November 2012.